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The Unsession

Posted on August 23, 2013 at 1:24 PM
Categories: Reform

The Unsession

Click to enlarge This week marks the beginning of the Minnesota State Fair; and Governor Mark Dayton is asking Minnesotans for their ideas to make state government better, faster, and simpler.
 
At more than a dozen state agency booths across the State Fair, fair-goers will be able to find more information about Governor Dayton’s ‘Unsession’ Agenda, and have an opportunity to provide their suggestions to the Governor. Suggestion boxes will be set up at each state agency booth, and Minnesotans will also be able to submit their Unsession ideas online over the next several weeks. The Governor is asking specifically for ideas for the upcoming 2014 Legislative Session.
 
The Unsession, proposed by Governor Dayton, will focus on eliminating unnecessary or redundant laws, rules, and regulations, and getting rid of anything else that makes state government nearly impossible for people to understand.
 
“My request of Minnesotans is simple: send me your Unsession suggestions,” said Governor Dayton. “Send big ideas that could revolutionize how state government operates, or commonsense changes that would eliminate headaches for Minnesotans. I invite every Minnesotan to join in building a better state government that better serves you.”
 
The Dayton Administration is also asking state employees for their ideas. The Governor sent a personal email to the state’s more than 30,000 state employees this week, asking for their reform ideas and suggestions. Already, nearly 1,200 state employees have registered to participate, and over 300 Unsession suggestions have been collected from state employees in just the first four days.

Improving how state government works has been a hallmark of the Dayton Administration. State employees have already made important reforms that have saved Minnesotans time and money – including changing the way the state pays for health care, reducing expensive and time-consuming paperwork, and creating new online solutions for permit applications. Other examples of improvements achieved over the last several years include reducing the waiting times for vehicle registrations from 90 days to just 10 days, cutting environmental permit waits by over 40 percent, and making hunting and fishing licenses available on smartphones.
 
Submit Your Unsession Suggestion

If you have a good idea for how to make state government better, faster, or simpler, Governor Dayton wants to hear from you. Over the next three weeks, the Governor will be accepting suggestions online and at the Minnesota State Fair. Your idea might just be the next big reform measure that could save Minnesotans time and money.
 
To submit your idea, visit any state agency booth at the Minnesota State Fair, or visit the Governor’s Unsession Suggestion website at www.mn.gov/governor/unsession.


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Governor Mark Dayton on Farming in Minnesota

Posted on August 15, 2013 at 10:07 AM
Categories: Agriculture

Governor Dayton attending Farmfest

Governor Mark Dayton at Farmfest 2013

When I was growing up, I heard a story about how the legendary University of Minnesota football coach, Bernie Bierman, recruited big, strong players for his national championship teams.  Reportedly, he drove through Minnesota farm country in the springtime.  When he saw a young man walking behind a plow, he stopped and asked for directions to a nearby town.  If the young man pointed with his finger, the coach drove on.  If, however, the farm boy lifted the plow to point the direction, Bernie recruited him to play football at the U!

Whether or not that story is true, it tells the truth about the strength and spirit of Minnesota farmers.  Today’s agriculture requires not only physical strength but also many other skills, to manage complex businesses, overcome all kinds of obstacles, and survive serious setbacks.


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Lt. Governor's Visit Highlights New Efforts to Protect Our Natural Resources

Posted on August 12, 2013 at 1:41 PM
Categories: Environment, Lt. Gov. Prettner Solon

Lt. Governor Prettner Solon and Senior Policy Advisor Will Seuffert

Lt. Governor Prettner Solon and senior policy advisor, Will Seuffert, spent time on Isle Royale reviewing efforts to address aquatic invasive species.

Last week, Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon visited Isle Royale, Michigan. The island is located in the northwestern corner of Lake Superior – a two-hour ferry ride from Grand Portage, Minnesota. 
 
The 850 square-mile island’s isolated location provides one of the most unique ecosystems in North America. Isle Royale is home to only 18 mammal species, unlike the nearest mainland, which hosts more than 40 species. The island also houses the longest running large mammal predator-prey study on earth.
 
Unfortunately, this otherwise pristine wilderness is now grappling with aquatic invasive species such as spiny water fleas, sea lamprey, and zebra mussels. These water-based invaders can disrupt the natural ecosystem – pushing out native plants, fish, and animals.
 
During her visit, the Lieutenant Governor traveled aboard the Ranger III, a National Park Service lake boat, to review efforts to address invasive species on the island and in the waters surrounding it. Here in Minnesota, we also have made new efforts to address aquatic invasive species.
 
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) first began addressing aquatic invasive species in 1987. Since then, the DNR has developed a comprehensive program with more than 160 permanent and seasonal staff dedicated to quelling aquatic invasive species.


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Shopping for school supplies? Save your receipts!

Posted on August 08, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Education

Keeping school supply receipts can lead to valuable tax credits
Kindergarten students find something to laugh about during a classroom exercise. Photo credit: Flickr user Woodly Wonderworks.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Heading to the store for back-to-school shopping? Don’t forget to save receipts from all of your school supply purchases. Doing so could qualify parents and guardians for tax credits or subtractions on your 2013 state income tax returns.

There are two tax options that help Minnesota families pay expenses related to their child’s education: the refundable K-12 education credit and the K-12 education subtraction. Both programs reduce the tax parents must pay and could provide a larger refund when filing a 2013 Minnesota Individual Income Tax Return. To qualify, you must have purchased educational services or required materials during 2013 to assist with your child’s education. Your child also must be attending kindergarten through 12th grade at a public, private or home school.

“The list of required school supplies continues to grow each year,” said Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans. “These supplies are a necessary part of school and saving your receipts now will save you money later.”

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A Great Place to Live

Posted on August 06, 2013 at 3:36 PM
Categories: Economy, Health

By almost any measure, Minnesota is a great place to live. We have it all: a growing economy, affordable living, top-notch health care, pristine lakes and forests, educated workers and a low crime rate.

In study after study, Minnesota consistently lands at the top of the heap when it comes to quality of life measures. The granddaddy of those studies, the Camelot Index, recently ranked Minnesota second in the country based on six factors: economic vitality, health, education, crime, society and government. Another study, the Opportunity Index, rated Minnesota third this spring behind Vermont and North Dakota, based on social and economic factors that contribute to opportunities for career and life success.

Underscoring the health of the economy, the state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, while per capita income grew to $46,227 last year – 11th best in the United States.

Want more evidence about the quality of life here? Minnesota was rated the third-happiest state in the country, according to a 2012 report by the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index, which measures physical health, emotional health, work environment and overall life satisfaction.

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New Grants Help Minnesota Livestock Producers

Posted on August 06, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Agriculture, Economy

Cows are a key component of Minnesota's agricultural production
Cows are a key component of Minnesota's $15 billion dollar agricultural production industry. Photo credit: Flickr user Jannes Pockele

Minnesota ranks fifth in agricultural production in the United States. The $15 billion dollar industry is vital to Minnesota’s economy. Agriculture also is a major area of international trade for Minnesota. In fact, our state exported $5.2 billion worth of agricultural commodities in 2011!

Governor Mark Dayton recognizes that our agriculture industry is critically important to growing Minnesota’s economy. To better support farmers, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is providing $1 million to fund livestock production improvements.

The grants will make a big difference for livestock producers seeking to make farm improvements. These enhancements will help our farmers remain competitive and increase their production. Since the initiative began five years ago, it already has helped 179 Minnesota farmers make $55 million dollars in upgrades and improvements to their farms.


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Why Hire a Veteran

Posted on August 02, 2013 at 11:31 AM
Categories: Veterans

Already there are reports of military veterans landing jobs as a result of the connections they have made during the Minnesota Veterans Career Fair held on July 16. Three veterans were hired by E.J. Ajax & Sons, a metal stamping company in north Minneapolis that had a booth at the event. One of the veterans, Curt Jasper, received the job offer just two days after the career fair.

“Combined, these three veterans have 50 years of experience,” said Erick Ajax, co-owner of the company. “Where else can you find such a group of talented and skilled workers?”

The company hired Matthew Greseth with 14 years of experience in the U.S. Army Reserve; Thomas Searles with eight years of service in the U.S. Army; and Curt Jasper, with 28 years of military experience in the Minnesota National Guard. Both Greseth and Searles are currently active in the reserves.

Greseth was hired for a position in logistics, Searles as a machine operator, and Jasper as a human resource manager.

Kent Djubek, the company’s president, explained why the business seeks to hire veterans. “They are excellent workers and have a strong work ethic,” he said. “All three of them have been trained in skills that are transferable to civilian jobs.”


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August 1, 2013 is ‘Freedom to Marry Day’ in Minnesota

Posted on August 01, 2013 at 11:12 AM
Categories: Human Rights

FreedomtoMarry_Dayton

Governor Dayton gives remarks at Minneapolis City Hall on the eve of Freedom to Marry Day 

Governor Mark Dayton issued a proclamation designating August 1, 2013, to be ‘Freedom to Marry Day’ in Minnesota.

"On May 14, 2013, I was honored and proud to sign the Freedom to Marry bill into law on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol. On August 1, 2013, same-sex couples shall be free to marry in the State of Minnesota, and this event will be celebrated at the stroke of midnight with marriages across our great state" said Governor Dayton.

"Our nation’s founding principle was stated more than 237 years ago in the Declaration of Independence: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.'

That principle was later embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution: 'No State shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'

These deeply held American ideals of liberty and justice must assuredly protect the freedom for every person to marry the person they love.

Throughout its history, some of our country’s most important progress has been to extend equal rights and protections to everyone. And while that progress has often been difficult and initially divisive, it has always been the next step forward to fulfilling our country’s promise to every American."



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Plan a Trip with MnDOT

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 4:59 PM

mndot_traffic
Screenshot of new MnDOT traffic App

Stuck in construction traffic? You should have consulted the free, brand-new Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) traffic mobile app. The mobile app features all the construction, maintenance, crashes and road incidents currently available on MnDOT’s website.

The app features a zoomable map with clickable icons for information on traffic incidents, winter road conditions and images from MnDOT’s freeway cameras. Users also can access traffic data that helps drivers determine how much time a trip will take, based on current traffic conditions.


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FastTRAC Initiative paves the way for hard working Minnesotans

Posted on July 30, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Categories: Education, Jobs

Minnesota FastTRAC Initiative
The Minnesota FastTRAC Initiative provides a route for students to advance their careers while providing for their families.

In March of 2012, Patricia Rice found herself moving to Anoka County, leaving behind life in a shelter. As a single mother trying to support her two children, Patricia met with a Minnesota Family Investment Program job counselor where she was able to find a job in a nursing home. She enjoyed the job, but needed something that could further sustain her family and help the community.

Patricia then learned about the Minnesota FastTRAC Initiative, which would lead her toward her goal of becoming a certified nursing assistant. 

The road to a degree can be difficult. Patricia found herself trying to balance her school and work, keeping a roof over her children’s heads. Thankfully, Minnesota FastTRAC provides understanding instructors and specially placed “navigators” who work with students to efficiently comprehend course materials. The Minnesota FastTRAC professors are determined to see their students succeed and move on into sustaining jobs.

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